Backpack Maintenance

Cleaning

It is inevitable that your pack will get dirty during the course of its life and it's inevitable that you will want to clean it! This is easier than most people imagine. Regardless of what base material it is made of simply scrub the pack down using a scrubbing brush with a mild detergent/soap in warm water then hose or rinse off. The pack will then dry easily if hung outside.

Mildew can be a problem particularly if you have stored your pack wet. The best advice here is simply don't let it happen!
If the pack is canvas and you do in fact have a mould problem a number of specialised canvas mould removers are available for pre-wash treatment. If the pack is of any other material the best bet is a mild, warm, detergent/soap solution and a lot of elbow grease.

Be warned any heavy detergents or bleaches can do significant damage to the fabric, so if in any doubt use warm soapy water!

Waterproofing

Neither canvas nor nylon packs are totally waterproof. While the actual fabrics may be (and usually are) waterproof, water is still able to seep through the seams or zippers in very wet conditions. Because of the shape and construction complexity of most packs, sealing the seams of a rucksack, either in the factory or at home, is difficult and not very effective.

The good news is that there are several other relatively simple ways to improve the weatherproofing of your pack. These include the following:

Loading Your Pack

It is worth spending some time at home loading your new pack with the gear you expect to take on trips. Note where it fits or doesn't fit! Below are some suggestions which may help.

Pack your sleeping bag in its stuffsack at the bottom of your pack. It is the last item you will need each day. The soft bulk of the bag will not dig into your hips and provides a firm platform on which to load your other equipment. Your sleeping bag is essential shelter in remote areas and should be protected. For this reason we strongly recommend that you do not strap it to the outside of your pack where it can be easily damaged, rained on, or stolen.

Folding, rather than rolling, your sleeping mat and loading it vertically against the frame on the inside of the pack helps prevent the contents of your pack from digging into your back. This works best with self inflating mats.

Pack heavy items towards the frame of the pack. This keeps the centre of gravity close to your back, allowing you to walk upright. Stoves, fuel, food and similar items are ideally placed here. Large heavy gear, such as your tent, should be arranged near to your back and about shoulder height. Having your tent near the top is also convenient when you stop to set up camp.

Getting a Comfortable Fit